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Rankings in Large-Scale Mobility Programs: Do they Matter? An Analysis of the of the Science Without Borders

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Rankings in Large-Scale Mobility Programs: Do they Matter? An Analysis of the Decision-making Process of SwB Students

With study abroad programs becoming more common worldwide, policy makers must be aware of students’ motivations to engage in this experience and choice of destination and host institution in addition to barriers in this process. Understanding the complexities allows institutions to offer the best programs that meet students’ needs and contribute to their satisfaction with the experience.
Thus, given that higher education and academic research are vital to economic growth and national competitiveness, rankings have become a source of essential information for all stakeholders - students, university administrators and governments. With the aim of developing the country’s workforce and establish strategic partnerships to compete with other nations, the Science Without Borders aimed to send students to “institutions of excellence” worldwide. However, due to its large scale and little time to design and implement the program, national agencies were not able to achieve the desired goal of allocating grantees to the highest-ranked institutions.
This study discusses the roles of rankings in the decision-making process and whether they affected SwB’s students’ choice to participate in the program, country and host institution. More than 700 SwB students responded to an online survey, and the analysis revealed the existence of three clusters with distinct motivations, foreign language proficiency level and academic performance prior to the SwB. These clusters also showed different levels in perceived benefits and challenges.


Kelber Tozini    

Claudia Bitencourt    

Simone Sarmento    


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